On Saturday, March 7th, Palmer Trinity School hosted its 15th annual International Festival. It is a festival where everyone of all different cultures come together to sell food, arts, and crafts from their different home countries. Keeping with the international flavor of the event, the campus was filled with booths advertising school clubs and selling a wide assortment of world wide and local handicrafts including artwork, jewelry, flowers, clothing, and gifts.
And of course, there were polar bears. Lots, and lots or polar bears… everywhere, all over campus. Mind you, these were not the large and ferocious ones that you might find in the North of the South Poles, but the cute, cuddly ones that you can find right here on the Sink or Swim website. I am pleased to report that the Sink or Swim polar bears made their premiere at this year’s International Festival and were a huge hit. The polar bears have become a symbol both for this website (in fact, the website’s domain, www.miamisearise.com, is gently printed on their “fur”), as well as the Sink or Swim educational initiative. The polar bears will also be featured in my upcoming book Sink or Swim about sea level rise, and first came to mind when I was interviewing Dr. Kirtman at the University of Miami’s Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. In the summer of 2014 I asked Dr. Kirtman his views on the biological impact of sea level rise to animals in their natural habitat and I’ll never forget his answer: “With animals and plants, there’s going to be winners and losers, which ones are going to lose and which ones are going to win I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure the polar bears are going to lose.” From that comment, came my idea to use the polar bears as one symbol of the coming impact that sea level rise will have on our planet.
As a part of the Palmer Trinity Eco-Club, I was asked to sell my polar bears to raise money for the Sink or Swim initiative. We spread the bears out all over the table, stacked them prominently on, of all the things, a cupcake tower, and sold them throughout the afternoon. While you can’t eat them, they did look cute sitting there on that tower. By the end of the festival, we had sold nearly 100 bears and raised well over 300 dollars… not too bad for our first effort.